Florida man caught on video attacking McDonald's employee in dispute over plastic straw

The man grabbed the employee by the shirt, after which she fought back.

Cell phone video captured a Florida McDonald’s employee defending herself against a customer who attacked her in a dispute over plastic straws.

The incident took place in the evening on Dec. 31, after a "verbal argument about straws," according to the St. Petersburg Police Department.

The video showed the customer, identified by police as Daniel Taylor, yelling at an employee, Yasmine James, before reaching over the counter and grabbing her by the shirt and pulling her towards him. James then grabs Taylor’s shirt collar and starts hitting him. Two other employees then intervene, with one pulling Taylor away from the counter.

Following the altercation, Taylor can be heard saying he wants James fired, with James shouting back that he would be going to jail. Taylor is also heard claiming that he was just trying to ask her a question.

Taylor continued to yell at the McDonald’s employees and was asked to leave by the manager, police said. On his way out, James kicked another employee standing near the exit door, Tateona Bell, in the stomach, police stated.

Brenda Biandudi, the customer who took video of the incident, told ABC affiliate WFTS that the incident began after Taylor went over to the condiment bar and could not find a straw.

"He was yelling and walking toward the counter, and the young lady behind the counter told him that it’s the law now, we’re not allowed to have straws in the lobby," Biandudi told WFTS.

The city of St. Petersburg approved an ordinance which said that as of Jan. 1, "no food service establishment shall distribute a single-use plastic drinking straw to any customer except upon a customer’s specific request," with no plastic straws being given to any customer after Jan. 1, 2020.

Biandudi told WFTS she believes that James handled the situation correctly.

"She had to do what she was doing," Biandudi said. "She’s a petite girl, and I just felt she did the right thing."

Police said after starting their investigation, they were able to find and take Taylor into custody when officers responding to a report of an unarmed robbery recognized him from the video. Taylor faces two charges of simple battery.

"Our highest priority is always the safety and well-being of our employees and customers at our restaurants. We have been in contact with the police department and are fully cooperating with their investigation," McDonald’s said in a statement to ABC News.